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Top 10 reasons curling camp is The Best

Simon Barrick is a competitive curler and coach. He’s also a sport researcher, currently completing his PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. This summer, Simon put his coaching skills to work as a staff member at the Alberta Rocks Curling Camp. Read on as Simon shares his Top 10 List of reasons that make curling camp – any curling camp! – The Best.

Simon writes:

What first jumps to mind when you hear “curling in the summer”? Insanity? Curiosity? Fun?

How about “curling camp”?

In August, I had the privilege of coaching at the Alberta Rocks Summer Curling Camp in Leduc, Alta. Alberta Rocks is one of the many fantastic curling camps (split into two four-day sessions) held throughout Canada that provide teens with a head start in their curling season. These camps run throughout July and August, while many of us are still on the links, at the lake, or in the mountains.

Here are my Top-10 reasons why curling camp is simply the best:

10. Working with an incredible team of coaches

We are fortunate in Canada to have so many outstanding coaches working across the country. I had the pleasure of working with Canadian champions, national and provincial team coaches; and some phenomenal teachers – all outstanding people, who are dedicated to the sport (…Not to mention hilarious!!)

The Alberta Rocks coaching staff after a very successful camp (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Mak)

The Alberta Rocks coaching staff after a very successful camp (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Mak)

9. The friendships

It was neat to watch the groups of 96 and 120 teens come in as strangers, and then go on to develop some amazing friendships by the end of the week (campers are divided into colour groups based on age and ability). No matter where they were from – Northern or Southern Alberta or the Peace region – campers formed some strong bonds that are sure to last for a long time.

Some friends from the Green group hanging out between drills (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

Some friends from the Green group hanging out between drills (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

8. Phys. Ed.

Now, this isn’t your typical Physical Education class with that short-shorts-wearing gym teacher, whistle in hand, screaming orders. No, Phys. Ed. at Alberta Rocks is all about team-building games that get the campers physically active and having a blast.

Giants, Wizards, and Elves, anyone?? (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

Giants, Wizards, and Elves, anyone?? (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

7. Learning how to be a “complete” curler

Usually, you would think that sitting in a classroom in the summer would be pretty dull. However, through fun and engaging lessons, campers at Alberta Rocks were exposed to the “total package” of being an elite curler, including learning about nutrition, sports psychology, and strategy.

Sport Psychologist Erin Brennan helping the Purple and Gold groups become mental warriors! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

Sport Psychologist Erin Brennan helping the Purple and Gold groups become mental warriors! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

6. A little golf? Why not!

The campers aren’t the only ones who have some fun. Between camps, the coaches hit the links to test out their golf games. And judging from the talent I observed, the adage “Those who can’t do, teach” is simply not true!

There’s always time for a golf cart selfie! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

There’s always time for a golf cart selfie! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

5. Receiving some tips from Canadian champions

Another cool feature involves guest appearances from elite curlers. Ever heard of Chelsea Carey? How about Amy Nixon? Well, both of these outstanding curlers (2016 Scotties Tournament of Heart champions) took some time out of their busy lives to give back to the sport…oh, and sign a few autographs too.

Some campers chillin’ with Canadian Champion and Olympic medalist, Amy Nixon/Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick

Some campers chillin’ with Canadian Champion and Olympic medalist, Amy Nixon/Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick

4. The Great Shootout

It’s hard to put into words the intense experience that is known as the Great Shootout. Those who have been a part of one know exactly what I’m talking about! The cheering, the team spirit, the pressure. Nothing like a little friendly competition to conclude the camp.

Camp Director Paul Webster introducing the Great Shootout (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

Camp Director Paul Webster introducing the Great Shootout (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

3. The costumes!

If you looked closely at the last picture, you may have noticed some rather “unique” curling attire. To keep the Great Shootout enjoyable (and to display team pride), the campers don as many colour-coordinated accessories as possible – all in the name of fun!

Even the coaches get in on the action! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

Even the coaches get in on the action! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

2. It’s fun. Period.

There are two main reasons why coaches keep coming back to curling camp year after year. The first one is that it’s fun. Period. Every activity we do is centred on having the most fun possible. Whether it’s the wacky group Phys. Ed. games, or the Ultimate Camp Championship, everyone (the campers, coaches, parents, even the mascots) love every minute.

Coach Sarah posing with the Purple group’s official mascot – Waddles (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

Coach Sarah posing with the Purple group’s official mascot – Waddles (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

1. The Campers

Curlers typically say that people who play this sport are what make curling special. Based on my experience at Alberta Rocks, I could not agree more. Each camper I worked with was an absolute joy. Their enthusiasm, politeness, work ethic and humour were contagious. They were truly a pleasure to be around!

All in all, it was so difficult choosing just 10 favourite reasons to explain why curling camp is the best. Everything about Alberta Rocks was amazing. The people, the facility, the activities – this is a can’t-miss curling experience. I already cannot wait for next August to arrive! If you are a young curler (between the ages of 12 and 17), or a parent of a curler, please strongly consider registering for a summer curling camp. Simply call your provincial or territorial association to get more information. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Oh, and did I mention, my green group won the Great Shootout?! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)

Oh, and did I mention, my green group won the Great Shootout?! (Photo courtesy of Simon Barrick)